Saturday, October 29, 2005 

O to the C to the D

One thing the pastor of my church says semi-regularly in his sermons is that people come to Korea for a lot of reasons, and oftentimes God does a lot of healing in their lives here. Add me to the list. I'm going far out on a limb in sharing this, and I'm going to try not to be wordy about it, but as it's a tender issue, I will try to concern myself with being understandable rather than concise. (Concise is nearly impossible for me anyway.)

I have a mental illness. Thankfully, I also have a really good sense of humor...without which, I'd have a lot more problems than I do. Humor and laughing are one of my coping mechanisms for all of life, but especially here. It's one of those ironies...I spent all my childhood vowing never to be crazy, and became that which I despised. First of all, allow me to define terms. Crazy is not PC, I know. I'm not crazy in the certifiably insane sense of the word. But I think it's a lot more to the point than saying "I have a mental illness." Plus, it usually can be used in a joking sense better than "mental illness" or "mental disorder." When I make reference to those of you who are "normal," I mean those of you without a mental illness and/or disorder. I long ago gave up the idea of normal because it's too subjective and impossible, I think. Many of you, especially those whose blog I read everyday and who frequent my blog, would fall into the category of least you would given what I know of you. This was my experience in college - most people seemed to have it together pretty well (again, in a mental, not spiritual sense). Back to the thing about Korea I meet a lot of people who are in a healing stage in their life (from all sorts of issues - mental, emotional, and spiritual) and I see how what my pastor says is completely true. I don't know what it is about this place, but it's true. (And by healing, I don't mean the charismatic laying-on-of-hands, Benny-Hinn kind of healing...I mean the slow healing work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a believer.) Evidently I'm at one of those "It's getting worse so it can get better" parts of life, especially relating to my mind. I'm working through a lot right now...and that's why I'm sharing all this.

Honestly, the day I was diagnosed was one of the most liberating moments of my life. I just thought I couldn't handle anxiety...while I do have a difficult time with anxiety, it's not "normal" anxiety. It's obsessive worrying and horrible thoughts. I've been in counseling off and on for the past three years or so (starting just after my mom died) and was diagnosed with OCD in December of 2003. I was on medication for a year, but didn't get counseling regularly throughout that time. I went off the meds shortly after coming to Korea, and have been off them until about a month ago. I've been seeing a counselor through my church, and he encouraged me to think about getting back on them for a short time, just to get me through a rough spot. Thank God for giving that man wisdom, because I don't even want to think about where I'd be right now without the medication. And now...for my take on the whole thing...

Disclaimer: I am speaking only of my own life and experience, and perhaps of my interpretation of experiences from my mom's life. That is all. No one be offended.

I've been struggling lately over the obvious dissonance between my mental state and my theology. I say that I believe in the sovereignty of God, yet I obsess to the point of nausea about any myriad of issues, problems, and potential disasters every day. What gives? A really wise friend of mine told me that I need to separate myself from the OCD, that it wasn't a behavior I was choosing, that it was beyond my control. She had a valid point, but I think I disagree on the specifics. I haven't studied it, so I don't know of course...but I think that the idea of a chemical imbalance is/can be used to eradicate personal responsibility. In my case, when I look at my life (with a God-given-clarity rather than a deer-hit-by-a-car-wide-eyed-victim mentality) it makes perfect sense to me why I am obsessive-compulsive. And maybe I do have a chemical imbalance, but I'd say it's due to nurture, not nature. And so, back to what my friend said, I think some separation is in order - I need to remember who I am in Christ and how God sees me, and remember that He will not abandon me. My OCD is not stronger than God. Yet at the same time, I need to pursue counseling and actively seek to change the way I think and reprogram my mind. And so that is what I am doing.

As for being crazy, it's tiring. It's honestly very least if I were bipolar there'd be some novelty in the mood changes (my mom was bipolar, and I lived with it, so I'm entitled to joke). For me, the novelty is what new irrational thing am I going to obsess about today? But I do believe in the sovereignty of God, and I do believe there are reasons for what I'm going through, despite my own sinfulness. I've been suicidal multiple times, I've nearly been admitted to the psych ward once, I live every day with the reality that the torment in my life is coming from within me. And lately, it's worse than it's ever been. But God is so faithful. And I'm thankful for it all, because He has already used it to minister to others through me.

Anyway, this is my version of coming out of the closet. Only I'm not gay. I'm just a little crazy. Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005 

Last Wednesday, on the spur of the moment, I decided to have a kind of dinner party at my house. I set the date for the next Wednesday (which would be today). Recap (for those of you who didn't see the pictoral tour of my apartment a few posts ago): I have two chairs, and one plate. I have maybe five or six sets of chopsticks, three forks, and two spoons. How many people did I invite to said dinner party? Seven.

So that's eight people total, counting myself...then came the inevitable dilemna: what will I cook? I have no oven, only a gas range. Hmm....not to mention that some people aren't eating chicken because of the bird flu (even though you can eat meat from an infected bird so long as it's been fully cooked...high enough temperatures kill the cooties). I decided on taco salad. The plan was to go grocery shopping Tuesday night, and clean the house totally Wednesday before work. Then something came up/happened Tuesday night that rendered me unable to go shopping. Kylie helped me do some cleaning. So I had to go grocery shopping this morning. Ah wait...I forgot. No taco seasoning or sour cream are available to me. But I press on with the taco salad idea. Then I get to the store and see that about half a pound of ground beef is about 9 US dollars. (They only use Australian beef here because of mad cow.) Umm...chicken taco salad? I only had time to get the groceries, bring them home, and put them away before I had to go to work. So I had a lot to do after work and before people arrived. However, I only had a thirty minute window between one and the other. Again, Kylie to the rescue. I defrosted the chicken, cut it up, and started to cook it while she swiffered. I cut up the lettuce and tried to grate the cheese with a really bad cheese grater (not entirely sure that's even what it is). Then I tried to cut one of the tomatoes and found out that they were rotten. Yuck. There were a few surprises in who ended up coming, but my boss was kind enough to order two pizzas, which was a relief to I wasn't sure my chicken kind-of-taco-salad was going to cut it. I borrowed Kylie's two chairs, and then moved the table so my bed served as a bench. I ended up standing the whole time (I take after my Grandma like that). I foolishly assumed taco salad would be self-explanatory, and just set the chips, salsa, cheese, and lettuce on the table. Kylie (again) noticed everyone's utter confusion and lack of understanding and said, "So are we supposed to mix everything together?" (I love having a friend that notices enough to ask a question she knows the answer to to help you out.) I had a good time, and I enjoyed spending time with the Korean teachers outside of work. And ah yes, the rotten tomatoes? They weren't even tomatoes. They were a special kind of Korean fruit. I'm just glad I ruled them rotten and didn't use them, rather than mix a sweet fruit in with taco salad.

Saturday, October 22, 2005 

Some thoughts about removable tape

I'm rather certain someone manufactured a defective batch of tape, and then had the ingenious idea to market it as NEW and INNOVATIVE R-E-M-O-V-A-B-L-E tape (applause and mixed cheers). There are certainly some situations in which it would be useful. It was with those situations in mind that I bought it, however I have found that the sticky doesn't last long enough to experience it's usefulness.


So embarrassing I had to tell someone...

I just spent the last ten or fifteen minutes laying on my floor, flicking pieces of dog food into the "kitchen" area of my apartment for my cat to chase, and laughing harder than I've laughed in a long time. I officially need a hobby. And I also need to sweep, because due to the cat chasing them and my horrible aim, there are now pieces of dog food all over my apartment. Oh, but it was hilarious.

Friday, October 21, 2005 

"Miguk" is Korean for USA. "Wayguk" is Korean for foreigner. I hear these words a lot.

My students are consistently amazed when I know what Korean money is. There's been at least four or five times in my different classes when a kid has pulled out a coin or a bill, pointed at it, and said proudly, "Korean money." I nod my head and say, "Yes, I know. I have some." Their response to this is gaping-mouth shock and complete bewilderment. "Teacher, YOU have Korean money?" I think in their little minds it's like all of us native teachers are magically teleported back to North America at the end of the day. No one has ever been content to leave it at that though, further explanation is always required. In my first grade class the other day, it progressed so far as to have one of the girls drawing a picture on the board of (what I think was supposed to be) a bank, pointing at it, saying "miguk money changey Korean money?" One of my fourth graders insisted on giving me 100 won coin (about ten cents) because I think she thought I was just confused and didn't actually understand her.

That, coupled with the way parents respond to us, really reinforces the idea that their perception of us is closer to the mystical north pole-elves than with actual foreigners living in their country. I met two parents today, which was terrifying. Aside from that one open day, I never meet the parents. They have a conference every so often with the Korean coordinators, but it's really like we're the invisible elves they know exist but don't meet (and don't seem to want to meet, either). The schedule was different today because of something special going on in the general kindergarten downstairs, and I only had one kid in my youngest kindergarten class . His mom delivered him to the classroom, which NEVER happens. Surprised me and scared me. Then we sat on the stairs waiting for the other students to come, but they weren't, then the Korean teacher told me to start my class, that his mother brought him just for class with me and was waiting in the meeting room for him to be finished. But from the way she said it, I thought she meant his mom would be watching and listening to the class via the monitors in the office (a prospect scary enough to nearly make me soil myself). So I was even more manic and chipper than usual, which is difficult when you only have one four-year old throwing energy back at you. Afterwards, I took him downstairs and my boss said, "His mom is interested in you," and motioned for me to go into the meeting room. I walked in, put down my basket, attempted a polite bow, and then just talked to the student while she put on his going-outside clothes (sweater and hat). She didn't say a word to me. Then she left. I was kind of "...uhhh...." but just went into the office. Less than a handful of seconds later, Mr. Moon came in, with a gift of various coffee mixes for me from this student's mom. I rushed out to thank her, but she had already gotten down two flights of stairs with a four-year old. (Maybe she's the elf.)

It's so cool (temperature-wise) here right now that my window is open, and the bottle of Diet Coke I left sitting out is cool enough that I can drink it without adding ice. My toes are numb, and so perhaps I should get up and shut the window. But between the computer on my lap, and the pile of animals on me, the rest of me is toasty. I'm sick again...did I mention that? I'm gonna go take some cold medicine and go to bed.


Plucking my eyebrows makes me sneeze. Always has. I have a cold again...and it was just not pretty.

It's raining today...I used to like the rain. That was before I had to walk everywhere I go. Now I like it if I'm indoors for the day and don't have to go anywhere. The only umbrella that is useful is the kind that's far too large to carry conveniently in my purse.

There was something else I was going to say, but I forgot it. I'm going to work now.

Thursday, October 20, 2005 

I don't even know how many times I've worn dangly earrings to work. I've even worn these particular ones to work many times. This particular student even noticed them before, because I asked him about them when we were doing the animal unit (the earrings are shaped like fish). But today, in a fit of eagerness to show me how smart he was, he grabbed my earring, yanked, and yelled, "FISH!" He didn't pull it out, but he really hurt my ear. And he's easily the cutest kid in the class, so I didn't want to yell at him or scold him. I just said, "Please don't do that again, yes?" and took out my earrings for the rest of the day.

Another interesting factoid...they sell these fancy erasers here. One side is an eraser, then the other side has a sticky roller. It's to pick up the eraser shavings. It then collects it in this little bin. Not to throw away, of course....that would be too easy. Or just brushing it off the table...that would be far too easy. The kids collect it, as much of as they possibly can, then they call it "eraser dung." What is perhaps even more interesting (at least it was to me) is that the eraser shavings (which have the consistentcy of mushy play-doh) can still erase, if you just squish it over what you want erased. You have to do it repeatedly, of course, but it still works.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 

Red and yellow black and white

One thing my school prides itself on is the fact that they use the same textbooks as US public schools, only two levels behind. (My fourth grade class is using a second grade textbook, which really isn't too shabby.) Anyway, I understand why this is good and how it would be very attractive to Korean parents. However...those textbooks are built to promote tolerance and a rather politically correct mindset. It's possible to use them towards that end in a classroom in the States. Here, it just makes for awkwardness. The culture is remarkably narrow-minded....which comes from having such a homogeneous population. Anyway, the story my sixth grade class is reading for the month is about a team in the Negro National League. Obviously, "Negro" is one of the vocabulary words. I wish I could describe well the conversation we had in class about that word and how it's not appropriate to use. I finally had to put it in concrete terms and tell them if they called someone a Negro, that person would probably want to hit them. Okay...they didn't get why it was offensive, but understood my point. One of their study questions today asked why the hotel manager in the story wouldn't let the team stay at his hotel. The answer was: because they were black. So as I'm writing the sentence on the board, one of my students says, "So teacher, you're white?" I said yes. He said, quite matter-of-fact, "And I'm yellow." Egad. I turned around and said, "No, you're Asian." (Hello, which is me imposing on him PC lingo.) He was confounded at this and pointed at his skin and said, "No, I'm yellow!" as if I maybe didn't get the point he was trying to make. So then I tried to explain how calling someone yellow could be offensive. I thought it would help to use my Korean-American friend Mary as an example. Then I had to explain adoption....which was difficult as well. I finally got the point across, though the entire class (of three students, so it's not bad we were slightly off track) was confused as to why it would be offensive. This same student said, "I'm yellow, with black hair and black eyes." He stared at me hard and studied me for a moment before adding, "But Teacher, you have black hair...why isn't your skin yellow?" I decided not even to get into the area of hair color (but my hair is naturally dark dark brown, so it's close) and just told him that there were lots of white people with black hair. He was surprised. I think he really thought only "yellow" people have black hair. I think maybe he really thought all/most westerners are light-haired with non-black eyes. Interesting stuff, I tell you.

Edit: another late-night "Ack, I didn't spell-check!" moments. Have I ever admitted that I actually do have obsessive-compulsive disorder (like, for real, I do)? I only wish this was as much as it interfered with my life. Could be worse though...I've got nothing on Jack Nicholson's character from "As Good As It Gets."

Monday, October 17, 2005 

I was thrilled beyond expression yesterday to find that the bookstore at my church carries the version of the Bible I prefer (ESV). I've been looking for a smaller-sized one to keep in my purse, but had no luck. It was a toss-up between the lime green one with no latch or the metal-outfitted "Battlezone Bible." I went for the metal one. I feel a little silly on the one hand, but on the other hand, I am absolutely OCD about dog-eaggered corners and crinkled pages in books, especially in a Bible. So I bought it.

The weekend was nice...lots of resting and reading. And one particular bright spot was the taxi driver I had Sunday morning on my way to church. He was extremely jovial and friendly, and spoke decent English (decent when measured against the typical Korean's ability to speak English conversationally, that is). We started talking somehow, and he told me that he was 19 when the Korean War started, and he's now 74. He also told me that he was a pilot, and flew airplanes and helicopters until he was 55...or maybe he was in the army until he was 55, I was a little fuzzy about that. His son is at school in Utah..or maybe teaching at a school in Utah, given how old he is. Anyway, he was wonderfully nice to me, and it was a refreshing change. (The previous two Sundays I had taxi drivers who took an obscenely circuitous route in order to run up the meter.)

Took the cat to the vet this morning. The doc took out the stitches, and I had to hold him. I'm getting slightly ahead of myself. While getting ready to leave my apartment, I had the ingenious idea that transporting the cat in messenger-style-tote bag of mine would be much easier than putting the kennel together and shoving him into it. Theoretically the idea isn't too terrible. But getting the cat into the bag (no jokes, thanks very much) was easier than keeping the cat in the bag. To be honest, it looked like the bag was trying to give birth. Anyway, the doc took out the stitches, and then put the blasted e-collar back on him and said "two more days." Arg. The cat's getting used to it, it's me that has a problem. It drives me nuts. After tomorrow is finished though, I don't care of the cat has a bloody stump for a limb, the ecollar is off, and I'm using regular cat litter again. I'm so over this newspaper litter stuff.

Saturday, October 15, 2005 

I was up until 4 AM this morning doing....a variety of things. Then, in a surprise move, I got up at 10:00 AM this morning. I know many of you, perhaps even most of you, sleep six hours a night, or maybe even less. I, however, cannot do it. Luckily, I'm at a time and place in my life where that's okay for now. I usually get 8-9 hours of sleep a night. If I sleep less than eight hours, I am a very grumpy person. But I decided I didn't want to waste my weekend by sleeping. So I got up and wasted most of my Saturday doing pointless things. I did go shopping this afternoon though - my phone card ran out awhile ago, and I've been dialing direct so I'm really not looking forward to my next phone bill. Anyway, they only sell the phone cards in a certain part of town, so I went over there. I was also planning on stopping by a used bookstore I've been to before. However, the bookstore does not exist anymore. That was disappointing. Then the foreign food store also in that part of town didn't have any chickpeas (they usually carry them). They still don't carry tahini. That was disappointing also. But then I went to the other bookstore, who seems to have bought the stock from the used bookstore that closed, and bought 9 books for around 45 dollars. I got two copies of The Case for Christ, one for me and one for one of the girls in the small group I'm leading. I got God's Smuggler, a book by Andrew Murray, Through Gates of Splendor by Elizabeth Elliot, The Pursuit of Holiness, The Problem of Pain (I'm on a C.S. Lewis kick), a book by a Russian writer from the 1800s, and a book about the assassination of the Romanovs in the Russian revolution (from the ongoing Russian kick I've been on). I also bought a $30 wallet. That's a lot to spend on a wallet, but I absolutely love it, and since it's Korean, I imagine it'll be the right size for their money. It's a wallet that would be much cooler to have back home than here, because the design is traditional Korean kind of art, so I'm going to look stupid with it maybe, but it's an awesome wallet. And I talked to lady down from 35...which is good for me. I am a bad bargainer, because it makes me feel guilty. You know, now that I think about it, I didn't say anything. She talked herself down. But I bought it...ah well. I also got a few things to put into the packages I'm working on for Haley and Bethany.

And now I'm home and tired. The subway ride to that part of town is an hour each way (course it's an hour subway ride to my church too and that's not too far from my house), and all the walking....and so many people. I realized that one reason I stay in so often on the weekends is because it's just exhausting going out. Not for actual reasons (like walking too much or anything) but because the constant jostling, being run into, being stared at, being talked about, having to fight the crowds's just tiring. I don't know how to put it into words, but it takes a different kind of energy to go out among the population here. I've been here for nine and a half months, and am happy. I understand a lot of the culture, but there's still the issue of foreign. I'm in a foreign place, and I am a foreigner. Being in a foreign place can be exhausting, but being a foreigner is a completely different thing and brings about a completely different kind of exhaustion. I had to go to the part of town near the US base, so there's lots of white people and English speaking over there, not to mention a subway. I got a sandwich from there, and the lady beside me in line made small talk with me (the friendly kind, not the "get out of my way" kind) and it made me so happy I almost got emotional. I don't know if I could have put my finger on the kind of exhaustion I felt before that happened today...but being a foreigner and sticking out like a sore thumb all the time is just old. I'm so over it.

Well this is much longer than I had anticipated. I'm going to go relax in the safety of my apartment. Do allow me to say that any spelling errors in this post are due to the fact that my cat is laying on top of me and I'm having to look at the computer screen through his e-collar. Monday morning (when the stitches come out and the ecollar comes off) cannot come soon enough.


Anyone good at writing resumes? I need a good objective, as I'm updating my resume to look for teaching jobs back home. Right now I'm doing the resume to send to Christian schools, and I'll do another one later to send to public schools. I need some help though.

There's one private school I'm filling out the application for, and you have to list the books you've read in the last twelve months and discuss which impacted you the most. I cannot even remember all the books I've read in the last twelve months, and I have the sneaking suspicion they might not believe me if I list all I can remember. But whatever.

And I need to list a few personal references on this application. It's one of those times where I'm at a total loss....and for professional references, I don't have ANY contact information from the school I interned at in Tel Aviv, so that looks bad. Oy. I hate writing resumes.

Kylie and I played cards for almost four hours tonight. That might be pathetic. I'm undecided.

I had a "this is why I love teaching" moment today...actually a few of them. But it's almost 3 AM, and I can't believe I'm still awake, so I'm not going to tell you about them now. I will later though, I promise. Night.

Friday, October 14, 2005 

The smell of bananas has nothing on the smell of jambalaya. *gag* The word alone reduces me to a helpless gagging mess. I ate some crab jambalaya once around the age of 10 and was up puking and dry-heaving for FAR too long. I can't stomach the word now, let alone the food. And while I'm sure whatever was being cooked at my school this evening wasn't jambalay, it certainly did smell like it. It just goes to show how powerful scent can be. I couldn't imagine that, fourteen years later, I'd remember the smell. But I realized tonight that I certainly do remember the smell *gagging again, for real*. It's just horrid. Blar.

Monday, October 10, 2005 

I hate the smell of bananas. There are some beside me on a shelf but I'm too tired to move them.


Mondays are my late days - I work from noon to 9:00 PM rather than 11:00 - 7:30. So I just got home and ate dinner. I feel yucky cause it's so late, and I should be getting in bed soon...but my body clock won't allow it.

I have to write the articles for my church's devotional - they're due on Wednesday and I haven't started yet. That's really crappy of me, but I haven't been up to it spiritually before now. There's six I have to do, spread out over chapters 4 and 5 in John. I almost preferred the more obscure OT passages because my task was to explain more the history. That doesn't make sense but I'm too tired to try and fix it.

Confession: people who use big words to sound impressive really annoy me. I have read a blog before that depended far too much on the thesaurus and ended up using the word wrong anyway...and I laughed. I'm a terrible person.

I had to take my cat to the vet this morning, and I was thinking he'd remove the stitches and the e-collar would be long gone. Wrong. The stitches stay in until next Monday, which means the e-collar stays on until then too. He's getting used to it and can navigate slightly better with it on but it's annoying.

Kylie and I play games so much (Uno, Skip-Bo, Sequence). It's great fun, but I realized yesterday how bad it was gotten. We were waiting for a light to change so we could cross the street and when it did, she was facing me and talking. I meant to say "It's green," but what came out was "Your turn."

Not trying to dwell, but watching a cat with a lampshade-equivalent on his head trying to be stealth is hilarious.

I slept quite well last night (except for the bad dreams) thanks to Haley - she sent me a bottle of Benadryl. Ah...sweet Benadryl. It's my drug of choice for allergies, getting to sleep on occasion, and sedating the dog. It's actually what Daive and I both take before a plane ride.

I'm going to go waste more time doing something else now. Night all.

Sunday, October 09, 2005 

I haven't had a cat for long enough to speak for him as I would for Daive. But I do know enough to know that whatever is going through his kitty mind right now is probably not nice. It's an incredibly clear picture though...he's such a cute kitty. I've grown incredibly fond of and attached to him in the past week. Of course that hasn't kept me from laughing at him trying to navigate with the e-collar on (short for elizabethan collar, by the way, assuming I'm remembering that correctly) and taking quite a few pictures of him in it to let the moment last forever. As many animals as I've seen wear e-collars, it never loses the humor. Good stuff. It's funny, he gave up trying to get it off, but he still wants to clean himself, so he'd position himself and then just lick the inside of the collar over the part of himself he wanted to clean...funny stuff. We go to the vet in the morning, and I'm hoping he's going to take out the stitches so he can stop wearing this silly thing. Makes life much more difficult for all of us.


A tour of my apartment

My sister asked me to take pictures of my apartment because she wanted to see them, so I thought I'd post them on here just for fun. Here you go.

The pictures got all out of order when I was trying to post them, so just bear with me here.

This is the view of my apartment from the door. It's a one-room apartment, so from here you can see the refrigerator (next to the wardrobe thingy on the right-hand side) and also the sliding glass doors (far right) onto the patio where my washing machine and other various junk is kept. Also, there is a tie-dye shirt on the window sill because when I open the outer window (with the frosted glass) Daive sits there and looks out the regular window. Note also the beach picture (which you can only barely see), its a picture I took in Tel Aviv and is GORGEOUS. I'll try to scan it and post it.
This is the view from the kitchen. I wish there was a better view of the bookcase, because that's the bookcase I carried for half a block and up one flight of stairs by myself. The big comfy chair likewise was salvaged from the streets, but Kylie helped me get it up here. The computer chair too, now that I think about it, was rescued from the streets by Kylie and Donovan for me. Koreans throw out perfectly good stuff. (So then I take it, disinfect it, and live happily ever after.)
This is the view from the top of the (43) stairs (I've climbed them multiple times a day for nine months, it's only natural I got bored enough to count). Only usually my door isn't open and my cat doesn't have a lampshade collar on his head. Do note the little marble space in the apartment that is lowered, that is the shoe home. Koreans don't wear shoes inside, so they stay in this space, where they trap the dirt and such that is carried on them. The bag is full of recycling, which I have proven time and time again that I am unable to remember to take downstairs everyday. The big cabinets are maybe supposed to hold shoes, but that's not what I use them for. (At least not just shoes.)
This is my home. #402, at the top of the 43 stairs.
This is my bathroom, which serves the dual purpose of being the cat's room at night (hence the kennel top with a sheet in it on the floor). There's no stall for showering, it's just a handle out of the wall and everything gets wet. There is a cabinet above the toilet, but I didn't take a picture of it because it's so full of stuff and ugly.

That's all. I could've taken a pic of the kitchen (but it was too dirty and I haven't done my dishes in an embarrassingly long time), or of the porch (but it was cluttered and really, who cares), but I decided it wasn't worth the effort. Welcome to my home!

Friday, October 07, 2005 


I'm sure I thought about it, but only tonight when I started to tell Bethany this story on the phone did it really occur to me. I said, "So I took Claude to get declawed.....wait a minute...." and then got off track while I thought about the irony of it all.

Anyway, Claude is no longer so (clawed, that is) and he also got neutered today (on an aside, I'll never understand why so many men, as in male humans, take that so personally). It's been quite the day for him. It was chilly and raining this morning, and the poor cat nearly has panic attacks when he's outside of my apartment. So being in a kennel thrown about in the rain wasn't all that great for him. He was making that yowling noise he does so well, which nearly got me thrown out of the cab (I didn't wait to make sure the cat could come cause I know most Koreans don't like cats, I just threw the kennel in, got in, and confidently gave him directions as if I had no doubt he would follow them...the act worked). When I got to the vet I became quite sad because of his pathetic (and futile) grabbing at the air through the kennel door trying to keep me close to him. I told the doctor to take good care of him, and his parting words to me were, "Well, it's a very dangerous and painful surgery!" (Maybe he's a vet cause he didn't have the bedside manner to be a human doc?) Well that worried me slightly. He said he would call me after the surgery, but when I got to work I realized the battery in my cell was dead, so I had a Korean teacher call and tell him I'd call. When I did call in between classes, I heard him answer the phone in Korean, followed by a very loud yowl. I identified myself and asked how Claude was. The doctor said, "Claude is recovering. He's..... (long pause here)......very angry." Then he told me to come visit at 8:00 - I ended up bringing him home tonight (much to the relief of the vet, I think) and he's been lolling about mostly unconscious since then. Banfield used surgical glue instead of stitches on spays, neuters, and declaws, but they do stitches here. He's just having a rough go of it. He's in an e-collar (lampshade collar), or at least he's supposed to be. I've got it off of him right now, so long as he's in my lap and I'm watching him close. He's yet to really regain control of his bladder, but I'm keeping him wrapped up in either towels or old sheets, so it's not a problem.

And Haley, this part is mostly for you, but I realized when I called the vet's office today that I've become that girl. The girl you dread seeing coming in the door. The girl who is quite convinced that her pets are angelic (and may very well be at home, as mine mostly are) but are absolute devils once in a veterinary hospital. When Daive had her fractured nail removed, they put a muzzle on her (they made me do that part, actually) and then put an e-collar on her to make sure she wouldn't bite them, though she's not a biter at all. And Claude...the vet was a little too pleased to see him go.'s kinda a relief to be on this side of the that girl issue.

And could sleeping with my window open at night be at all responsible for me not only not getting better, but getting sicker and sicker? The window is right over my head...and it's cool here at night. I'm just sick of being sick, and can't make up my mind. Given that it's Seoul air, it can't be altogether healthy...but it's so much nicer than sleeping with the A/C on...but could it be a contributing factor to the not-getting-better-edness? Your thoughts, please.

PS - When picking Claude up from the vet tonight, the doctor said something in a characteristically Korean way that made me laugh. I pointed out that Claude had just urinated on the exam table, and the doc was quite adamant about him not getting his front paws wet. I held his front half up while the doctor wiped up the mess and cleaned him up. He then said, "He's had a stressful day, you know." I'm sorry if this is considered crude here, but having the top joints of your hand (hand-equivalent, anyway) cut off and your testicles surgically removed - that's got to qualify as way worse than simply a stressful day. That's far worse than a papercut, worse even than when lunch at work is rice with octopus in it. That's a significantly and genuinely horrid day. And so pee away, my furry've earned it.

Thursday, October 06, 2005 

Not sure if I mentioned the slight shopping spree I went on last month or not. I sent home a bunch of money and then bought over $150 dollars of clothes from Old Navy, which isn't a lot of money really, but they were mostly plain shirts on sale, so it ended up being a lot of clothes. I also sent some extra money home cause there's some other stuff I need, and my wonderful kind sister was selfless enough to put up with all my bothersome requests and put together a one-of-a-kind care package for me. It came today, and I'm a happy girl. I have clothes and deodorant that isn't Korean (thanks be to God!), Daive has toys that are built to withstand more than a yorkshire terrier's paw, and the first batch of ranch dressing is currently "thickening" in the fridge. But then...

It's just like Christmas afternoon, a thought which I would explain and expound upon further if I were up to it. But I'm feeling strangely lonely and disappointed right now, and so I'm going to go to bed instead. Good night.

Sunday, October 02, 2005 

Fireworks and the small multi-colored strands of Christmas lights are two things that make me instantly happy. Conveniently I live near a small amusement park that has fireworks shows throughout the summer, a portion of which can be seen by leaning out my window. They had a show tonight too, bigger than the others (maybe because tomorrow is some kind of holiday) and I was able to lean further (farther? I hate grammar.) out the window since I rearranged and my bed is now under it. It was quite nice. Plus it's actually autumn here - cool enough tonight that I took Daive for a walk with her in her new sweater (courtesy of Haley, pics to follow at some point) and me wearing a sweatshirt. We sat on a bench in the park for awhile, but she got so cold that she started to shiver, and I was cooler than is comfortable so we came home.

Church today was amazing - prayer before with the other members of the Welcoming Team, bought the only John Piper book I've seen on sale in this country in the bookstore, amazing sermon, Women's Space afterwards.

Other highlights of the weekend include:
- Me taking the cat to the vet, against all wisdom and common sense, without a carrier (and nearly having my throat slit and shoulder ripped open in the process) - he got his first shot (I'm a bad cat owner, it's way overdue) and I made the appointment for the dreaded surgery. Next Friday he'll be getting neutered and declawed. He didn't seem too excited about it, but he doesn't have much choice in the matter.
- Learning how to play a one-person version of Uno
- Buying a deck of cards to have something to do
- Listening to part of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and a Harry Potter audio book while playing said card games

I did have a two hour lunch with my boss yesterday which wasn't nearly as painful as I expected it to be, where I did come out and agree to extend my contract for another three months. Of course she thinks that is dependent on what they're willing to pay me, but the reality is that to save enough money to move back to the States in a wise and responsible manner, I need to stay at least three months past January.

Saturday, October 01, 2005 

I went to sleep at 2 AM and got up at 9:30. That's very unusual for me. I am a sleeper...I sleep for long periods of time usually. It's good I got up early, makes me feel productive. But it's a little strange.

So since 9:30 I've been sitting at my computer, trying to harness my mental capabilities to produce coherent thoughts to put in an email to my cousin Mary who, as an aside, has always been an inspiration to me (the reason those airmail envelopes make me feel happy inside), and recently wrote me one of the most helpful, wise, and encouraging emails ever. Anyway, I'm having a hard time producing coherent thoughts, and thought some fresh air might help. I opened the window, only to be overwhelmed by fumes from the trucks in the street. Someone is moving out of a building on my street, and the way you move into or out of a Korean apartment is unique. Korea is a very small place, as far as land goes, so they conserve space. The stairways are quite small, and it's not really possible to get furniture up them (Kylie and I struggled a chair up, but nearly lost a few digits in the process). So they have a truck with an extendable arm and a platform. They line the truck up to the big window in the apartment, put boxes/furniture on the platform, and zoom the platform up to the window. I even found a picture for your viewing pleasure. The trucks in this picture are misleading though...only a decent-sized family would have that many possessions.

Did I mention that I'm having lunch with my boss today? Just me and her. That should be interesting. Could be bad. We'll see how it goes. I think I'm going to go lay down and read for awhile.


You have just got to see this...and please feed his vanity while you're there (I hear it's lonely). And this picture is ages old...I don't think they were being mean-spirited at the time either...I can't quite remember. Nonetheless, the picture is hilarious. And give him a 10! He deserves it for creativity and wittiness.


One of my K-7 students had been absent for over a week. He came back this past Tuesday, with the (belabored) explanation that he had fractured his skull. Ehh?! What are you doing at English school...climbing three flights of stairs multiple times throughout the day surrounded by children your age who are at least equally clumsy (he did the damage by some kind of fall), playing on a playground, and walking (see clumsy note above)??????? Since he came back, he's been really edgy and today he absolutely *freaked out* and scared me. A fractured skull! Really!


It's weird how used you can get to not knowing what's actually being said around you. Not even around the English section of the bookstore I get rather annoyed with the other English speakers, cause I can't block them out and focus on my browsing. But like I know the taxi driver today was apologizing for not knowing English. I know that my student in K-6 was telling me that the other boy pushed him (and I didn't see the pushing). One of the Korean teachers was telling me about a movie she really loves (just forgot the name of it though) and how she bought it when she was in the States, so it doesn't have Korean subtitles. She said she's watched it at least 10 times and she gets it, even though there are still parts where she doesn't understand the language. I dunno, language is weird to me. I don't learn languages easily - at least that's what I've told myself so far. There's a lot of little stuff I know here and there...but overall my knowledge of Korean is spectacularly unimpressive. Despite this, I understand a fair amount of what goes on around me.

And two random stories:
1. Kylie and I were sitting waiting for our food in a restaurant close to our house, when this woman walked into the restaurant and up to our table. She said hello and asked where we were from. We told her, and she said, "I want to make friends with you." Umm...okay. We then proceeded to have a semi-awkward conversation where we exchanged phone numbers. Kylie actually told a fib and said she didn't have a cell phone in order to avoid the inevitably even more awkward conversation that would take place on the phone, and just gave her her email address. (All the while praying Donovan wouldn't phone her cell phone at the moment and blow her cover.) She was very nice, and I'll certainly be friendly and nice to her, but she was a good ten years older than us (and an age difference of more than three years is substantial in Korea - especially for boy/girl relationships, but it's still a little weird for friendships), and she only wants to be our friends for free English lessons. She then left the restaurant. It ends up she was just walking by, said she had seen me a few times before, and wanted to make sure she could talk to us this time. A little weird, but still refreshing. I'd prefer it to being glared at or pushed around on the subway any day (though the pushing isn't necessarily just cause I'm white).

2. I walked into this itty-bitty store on the corner to buy some bottled water, and the lady there was talking to a male customer. She said hello to me (especially loud) and then asked where my dog was (her actual words were "dog??") , I said "home" (we have this exchange every time I come into the store sans Daive, and I'm still not sure if she knows what "home" means). Then she started talking about me to the man, which made me feel uncomfortable to a point I cannot even express (even more so cause it's not like I could hide behind an aisle, cause the store doesn't have one), so I just looked back at them (in a semi-defiant way, I confess) and the woman motioned to her face and said "yepo," which means pretty. She also said the word "mask," and I'm not entirely sure what she meant by that...but in cases like this, I'm going to take the compliment and dig no further. Thanks very much.

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