Saturday, April 29, 2006 


When my cat has been shaved, he looks like a freaky cross between an old man and a baby bird. Throw in his black and white coloring, and there's the cow-esque appearance. It's both amusing and a little disturbing. Turns out that he woke up early from the anesthesia and they couldn't bathe him (or really entirely finish grooming him). He did manage to bite all those involved in the process, and injure the vet enough to require some bandaging on her thumb. He's been stumbling around like a drunky kitty since I got him home a couple hours ago. Despite it all though (the most severe of which I suspect to be the loss of dignity he has suffered) he is most upset about not having eaten yet today. Though I do suspect if he could see his poor naked belly in a kitty-mirror he might voluntarily skip a meal here or there. Poor thing. Pictures to come...I just don't feel well right now.


The End of an Era

As I type this, Kylie and Donovan are on a very large plane, headed towards North America. They left this afternoon. It's a strange feeling. First of all, of course I'm going to miss them. But it's also more than that. It's like at college, the first time someone you were close with graduated and moved away. There have been many people I've known that have left Korea, but Kylie and Donovan are the first close friends I've had that have left. It's one of the marks of being a "long-termer" here, to see off close friends. Being here more than a year makes me a long-termer - a status that has both advantages (understanding more of the culture, speaking at least a little of the language) and disadvantages (people leaving). Anyway - here's to Kylie and Donovan! I cannot imagine what my experience in Korea would have been like without you. And beware! You're not shed of me yet! You are still required to visit Florida, and at some point I will be visiting Canada...for a certain specific event. I love you guys! Happy Canada! (Kylie, eat some food on my behalf, okay?)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 

One more thing...

I went to a respiratory specialist yesterday, as I've had icky lung problems on and off for the past 6-8 months. First, the doctor was (of course) in an actual hospital, and I have severe hospital issues (as in, near panic attacks). Then there was lots of waiting, and I was afraid I was going to be late for my afternoon classes. Then, for whatever reason, I got kind of nervous when I was seeing the doctor and started talking way too fast. He closed in on the asthma deal pretty fast (astute guy, this doc was). Then when the lady from the company tattled on me for having a dog and a cat, the doc just kind of clucked his tongue and said, "Ohhh...that's bad." Of course in my head I'm all "yeah, whatever." Then he said something about how their fur is so bad for you. (At this point, a line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail popped into my head, "Go away, or I shall taunt you a second time.")'s the dander, not the fur. It could be the fur, but the dander is a much bigger issue. We'll just go with the idea that he didn't know the English word though...besides, being a doctor, he is necessarily at least a million times smarter than I'll ever be, you know? So, with this irritatingly smug smirk on his face, he told me that he was going to run this full blood test to check for allergies and (this next part said in a warning tone of voice) that it would show up if I had a dog or cat allergy. (Did he expect a confession?) Then he told me that I would also need to do a bronchial provocation test and have chest x-rays done. Then I was finished with him.

The bronchial provocation test was humorous, if for no other reason than the guy doing the test spoke little English. And by "little" I mean he said "ok" and something that sounded very much like "left field." I'm sure it wasn't left field, but it REALLY sounded like that. I had to blow into a tube (like for a lung capacity test) then inhale some medication, and blow into the tube again two or three times. Repeat 8 times (as there were 8 different types of medicine to inhale). I was dizzy and a little grumpy towards the end. But it did end. Then off to the x-rays (which took less than 5 minutes from turning in the paper to changing back into my clothes and leaving the room). And the lab...this was like the "wham, bam, thank you ma'am" version of labs. You took a number (as you must do for nearly everything in Korea) and then when it was your turn, you sat down in the chair (which was technically in the waiting room), extended your arm, got stuck, and then left. Extremely efficient and impressive, I must say.

I go back next Tuesday, and we'll see what they say. The lady that went with me from the company asked what I would do if I found out I was allergic to dogs. My response? "Take medicine." I have said it once (ahem...once a DAY) but I will say it again: I AM NOT ALLERGIC TO DOGS. I worked at a vet for a year, during which time I owned FOUR dogs. I lived, worked, ate, and slept in dog and cat hair. No bronchitis or breathing problems then. It is NOT the dog. Anyway...just had to get that out. :) I'll keep you updated.


My sister Valerie...

is amazing. She just wrote me an email that, to say the least, made my day. In a special way (because she's blood, and one of the most amazing people I've ever known) it reminded me that I'm not alone, that there are people out there that love and care about me, and really get me. Val, thank you. You're inexpressibly wonderful. I love you!


Yesterday I fell down...

and when I say "fell down," I don't mean "gracefully slipped" or "tripped and regained my footing." I don't even mean "caught myself with my hands before falling flat on my face and/or rear end." I mean, fell like an anvil from the sky, HARD, fast, and painfully heavy onto the floor. My roommate and I were sitting in the living room talking. She wasn't feeling well, so when her cell phone (in her room) started to ring, I offered to go get it. I stood up really fast, and took off. It was as I tried to turn the corner to get into her room that my socks started working against me, and I absolutely lost my footing. There's no way I can put into words just how hilarious it was. I fell FAST and I fell HARD. I am not even sure what I landed on, but my hands, knees, and rear end are all sore today, so that's a pretty good clue. I stayed in almost the exact spot for about 10 minutes, not because I was in pain, but because I was laughing. Even now, as I am thinking about it, I'm laughing hard enough that I almost can't type. I know you had to be there for it to be really funny, but trust me... it was great. I'm just glad my roommate got to see it - with slapstick comedy like that, it's best to be appreciated by someone other than yourself.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006 

I'm still sick. I don't seem to be getting better, actually. As a really wise person once said to me that biology reflects biography. And I know that's especially true for me right now. I'm dealing with a lot of things personally, and that is contributing to me being so consistently sick here lately.

Job is...also not going so well.

I'm going to have my cat shaved on April 29. He's a shedding machine.

Yesterday was my roommate's birthday and we went out for dinner. The official party is this Saturday, so that will be fun.

Right now I am feeling officially blah. I need to go soak in the tub to try to loosen up all the muscles that have either been exercising without my knowledge and permission or are severely tight because of some cruel virus attacking them within my body. Then sleep. And then, work tomorrow.

You know though, some's just hard. And that's an incredibly inadequate expression of what I'm really thinking right now. But I just don't have it in me at the moment to explain further.

Thursday, April 13, 2006 

I could be sleeping right now...

Tuesdays and Thursdays at the hagwon (elementary-level academy part) are pretty quiet. Tuesday I was sick, and was sent home to take a rest (Konglish phrase). Today I've held out the whole day (surprisingly), but was told to go lay down in one of the classrooms and rest. So right now I could be sleeping. But I'm not. I was browsing about on myspace - a dangerous (and as Jen has pointed out, oh-so trendy) addiction. It's interesting the information you can piece together about people you know but don't talk to, given what they blog about and the comments people leave for them (or they leave for people). That leads me to a rant on how the technological world has redefined what could be considered stalking. But I won't go there now. Too tired and sick.

Did I mention that I went to the doctor yesterday? Lungs are doing poorly - he gave me an injection of steroids, the purpose of which I have forgotten, as well as steroids in a pill form to take, and cough syrup. I assumed that, being Korean, the cough syrup would taste at least one million times worse than States-side cough syrup, but it was equally nauseating. Anyway, he said I have near-pneumonia. That if I'm not careful, it could get worse and I could be in a tight spot (I just watched O Brother, Where Art Thou?).

Since this is the post of randomness (inspired, I'd like to think, by whatever is in that cough syrup) I'll keep on. Kylie bought me Bible Trivia for my birthday. The super old game (1984, I believe). We had one growing up - but we obviously had the children's edition. I remember being good at the questions. And the questions that came with this game...holy cow, made me stop and wonder if I really do have a degree in theology. Some of the questions are so obviously dispensational though, it's humorous. One question was about a super-computer capable of recording every person's blah blah blah...I forget how it ended. I was like, "Riiiight." I skipped that one. Anyway, this Bible Trivia game has awakened (reawakened?) in me the desire for a significant other. A guy that would love my dog, have a heart for missions, and love playing Bible Trivia. Is that so much to ask? At the moment, it obviously it. And I'm trying to be okay with that. But (shhh, this part is SUPER secret) I think that thing inside a woman that starts to tick (ahem...biological clock) ticked it's first tick the other day. It was at the kindergarten, and this adorable and usually great little boy (Western age: 3 or 4) crawled onto my lap just to be held because he was tired. I was holding him, and something inside of me was like, "Yeah, this is one of those things you were made for." Not this specific boy, of course, because that would be kidnapping - international kidnapping at that, which has to be more serious than plain old regular kidnapping. As usual though, I'm getting off the topic. I'm only 25, and I understand that's young. I'm not in a rush to be in a relationship, get married, or have kids. I'm not even sure if that's in the cards for me, and I think that ultimately I'd be okay with it if it weren't. I guess I'd just like to know. And I guess faith is what I need - that I will know when it's the right time to know, you know?

In the meanwhile though, if any of the 4 people that read my blog know of any missions-minded, dog-loving, Bible-Trivia-playing single men out there...for the love of Pete, don't tell me. :) Now I'm gonna take a quick nap before my 4:30 class. Until later...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006 

We took these for the personal ad he's gonna run in "On the Prowl"


My Sister, the Easter Bunny

My sister Jennifer rocks my world. Last week she sent me a "super secret surprise" in the mail (she always sends me the tracking number, I love that too). Anyway, said super secret surprise arrived today, and may I share with you what it was? Easter candy! I had totally forgotten that Peeps existed. And there is no such thing as Reese's Peanut Butter cups in Korea (except for the 6 dollar bag at the black-market import store). It was JUST what I needed, to get through the day and the week. I'm really sick right now - well, just my lungs. But lungs are rather vital for existing, and therefore it's not good. My classes haven't been going well, I'm having money issues, and while I know the point of counseling is to make progress and face things, it's not an altogether pleasant experience and it is certainly NOT easy. So the easter candy totally did it for me. Jen, you rock! Thank you! I love you!


It's not ALL bad

This is the view from my back porch. The cherry blossom trees are the most obvious in these pictures, but really the whole thing is quite nice, especially after the dreary dead browns of winter. I took these yesterday, only two days after the pea soup dust day. I do find that the sky is always quite clear after a bit of rain (it rained yesterday morning).

Sunday, April 09, 2006 

Yellow dust

And to think, all this time I thought it was a weird Koreanism (my word for Korean myth). They told me that in the spring "yellow dust" from China blows into Korea, and that it's all very unsafe. I was like, "Riiiight." Well, yesterday, I nearly broke my one cardinal Korean rule: I will never buy and/or wear a face mask. I didn't actually break down and buy or wear a face mask, but oh geez, I wish I had. This above picture can be found here, and a news story about the phenomenon can be found in English here.

Well I was outside...enough yesterday, for it to have an impact on me. Not to mention I already needed to refill my asthma medication, but as there are FEW asthma sufferers here, I went to five pharmacies before I found one with it, at the very end of the day. I got more and more grumpy as the day went on, I learned only at the end of the day because my airways were getting worse and worse. I assumed it was just bad lungs and Seoul air. And then...

This morning I woke up feeling rather icky. I was stuffed up, and my eyes in particular were feeling rough. They were all leaky and runny, and yet felt like they were completely full of liquid. I got up, and said something to my roommate who was in the living room about how it looked like her neck hurt. When I walked into the bathroom and looked in the mirror, I genuinely startled myself. I exclaimed something, and said, "What in the world happened to my eyes?!" I walked out to show my roommate, and she exclaimed something as well...and it's never a good sign when someone else freaks out too, you know? My eyelids were swollen to about two times their normal size, and I could barely keep my eyes open. Under my eyes was swollen as well. It was weird, and not anywhere near pleasant. Ends up people with respiratory problems aren't supposed to go out when the dust is so bad. Wish I'd have gotten that memo. So today is not good. But I didn't go out much today (though the dust isn't bad at all today).

The stuff comes from deserts in China, particulary the Gobi desert. It's sand storms and such, going over the disgustingly polluted areas of China before reaching us here in sunny and oh-so already polluted Seoul. Last year there was some dust, but I just assumed it was a kind of heavy pollen. poster in the Korean forums of Dave's ESL cafe (a website and forum I frequent) called it pea soup, which is a very appropriate comparison. I felt dirty and sick when I finally got home last night. Eww. And that above picture was taken in daytime. That's not dusk, it's dust.

Friday, April 07, 2006 

You know you're in a Korean buffet restaurant when...

Buffet restaurants here are quite the novelty. The name of the particular restaurant I was taken to by a Korean friend is VIPS. Koreans pronounce it as a word "vips" rather than pronouncing each letter as it should be. It's one of the nicer/nicest restaurants (of the chain variety) in the city, which should tell you a lot. As I said in a comment on Jen's blog, I just want to scream, "You know how you think all Americans are fat?? This has a lot to do with that!" But then I think to myself that a chubby Korean here or there wouldn't be so bad, and so I just smile, and convince them to get seconds/thirds/fourths.

You know you're in a Korean buffet restaurant when...

  • the shrimp isn't battered and fried and, gasp, requires peeling
  • the salmon is raw (on purpose)
  • there are all the makings for sandwiches with instructions (hello)
  • the "salad bar" is actually twenty different bowls full of strange salads, 99.7% of which have crab, squid, or other aquarium attractions in them
  • they have the makings for tacos (also with instructions, if I remember correctly)
  • the only fried food on the entire buffet consists of one bowl, which is labeled "fried things" (I'm so not joking). The "fried things" consisted of spring rolls, chicken nuggets, and something similar to an onion ring (I use the singular word "something" because there was only one in the entire bowl)
  • the only thing resembling french fries were on the dessert bar, glazed with a sweet sticky sauce (and named "sweet 'n salty)
  • instead of offering vanilla, vanilla/chocolate swirl, and chocolate, the machine offers vanilla, vanilla/green tea swirl, and green tea ice cream
  • the toppings for the ice cream are: fruit loops, walnuts, raisins, and blueberry sauce
  • there are instructions on how to make a banana split above the ice cream machine

Wednesday, April 05, 2006 

Home sweet indistinguishable from the next home...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006 

Oh, for the faith of a four year old...

Last Wednesday I was sick and didn't go to work. I tried to go in for the afternoon classes, but was promptly sent back home. I was talking to Adam (the other teacher), and his daughter Emma came in while we were talking just as Adam was telling me that his family would pray for me that night. I had my head on my desk and was concentrating most strenuously on not puking everywhere, and Emma said to Adam really quietly, "Daddy, I want to pray for Teresa tonight, okay?" Adam said that they would. So the next day, Adam asked me if Emma had told me how she had prayed for me. I said no, and he was telling me about it just as she walked in. I told Emma that I felt much better than the day before, and she just nodded and said quite simply, "God answered my prayer."

Sunday, April 02, 2006 


I dropped it on the blanket on the couch this morning just before/after my breakfast. At some point shortly thereafter, said blanket was gathered up (with my phone in the folds) and taken into my roommate's room. I never go into her room, not cause I'm not allowed or she doesn't like me... it's just that the animals aren't allowed in there, and they (particularly Daive) has a hard time getting the idea that she isn't allowed to be somewhere if I'm there.

Anyway, I had nearly disassembled the entire apartment, and just on a whim, went in to check what was on the top layer of the extra mattress (since Pamela spent the night last night) and sure enough...when I shook out the blanket, out came my phone - with 13 missed calls - 10 of which were from me, and one from Pamela and Natalie trying to see if it was ringing among their belongings.

Bah. I'm frustrated with myself.


Like losing an arm or something...

My cell phone is missing. And that is a HUGE problem. Cell phones here are at least 10 times more common than last time I was in the States. Many-bordering-on-most of my first grade students have cell phones, as well as 99% of the really-really-old population. It's funny to see this old great-grandpa operating a cell phone and sending text messages like he's 15.

Anyway, back to the problem, mine is gone. As in, *poof* disappeared. I had it this morning when I got up. Somewhere between breakfast and trying to leave at the house it vanished. I went out of the apartment one time between those times and it was to walk Daive, and I didn't take it with me then. It was on (this I am sure of because it would give me a message in Korean when I called if it was off), and it was NOT on silent. I have called it at least 10 times, trying to listen for the ring. And...nothing. I then turned off all the appliances in my apartment, and called a few more times....because if it were on vibrate, I could hear it vibrating. But nothing. And that leads me to believe it is no longer in the apartment, which leads me to believe perhaps it accidentally left with either Pamela or Natalie this morning. I called and asked them when I realized it was missing, and they both said they didn't have it/hadn't seen it. I just called Pamela again and asked her to check in her bag just to make sure, for my own peace of mind. But seriously, I have turned my apartment upside down. I looked in all the cracks of the couch, under my sleeping mat, in all the drawers I opened today, felt the bottom of the trash bag, checked both the refrigerator and freezer (on the off chance I set it down when I was getting something out and left it there). I have looked in every conceivable spot it could be, at least three or four times. Now I'm to that point where I've looked so hard that it could be right in front of my face and I might not see it. I went out without it anyway, but I felt as if someone had amputated something from me. It's always in my hand, or on top of the stuff in my purse.

And so...there you have it. Super frustrating. I'll keep you posted.

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