Tuesday, November 28, 2006 

A few interesting facts...

When grapes get old...like REALLY really old, they can start to smell like black olives. That's just gross.

I broke up with MyungHo last Tuesday. He spent a portion of the next three or four evenings parked in his car outside of my apartment. I only knew because he told me. It freaked me out a bit even though I KNOW that he is totally harmless. I was talking to a Korean friend of mine today and she said that Korean women like that. Korean women like to see their love-sick ex-guys sitting outside their apartments even when they are leaving and going somewhere with their friends. They think it's sweet. I tried to explain that American women would think it was stalking. I don't think she understood.

It was cold and rainy yesterday. Because I'm slightly dense, I had left both of my umbrellas at work. I bought one...and the cheapest one I could find was $10! And THEN I couldn't figure out how to close it. And I know I have my flighty moments, but I'm not that dumb. The first time I just struggled through it. The second time I attempted to close it, I sliced open my index finger in two places. Needless to say, I didn't use the umbrella again. Anyone need a $10 pink automatic umbrella that is smarter than me? Yeah...just let me know.

I just went in my room and started a CD. It's the Blind Boys of Alabama Christmas CD. The first song on the CD starts off with some talking. I'm alone in the apartment right now. And so when I heard talking, deep man-voice talking especially, coming from my dark supposed-to-be-empty room behind me, I very temporarily freaked out - which is dumb, cause I went in there just to play the CD. Anyway, it startled me so much that I jumped, which also startled me. I'm so irritatingly jumpy.

Okay, so I have a cold right now. I went to the 7-11 store near the kindergarten this morning to get some candy to bribe the children with, as I barely had a voice. The lady that works there is my friend, and we manage to eeke out some kind of communication between the two of us. She is such a very delightfully kind lady. Anyway, I got some Halls, candy for the kids, and a diet coke (duh, right). Then she ran back and got me this hot bottle of stuff...it was oriental medicine. She told me drink it right away. I knew what it was...I had tried it before. This stuff tastes A-W-F-U-L. I mean, off the top of my head, I'd say spoiled barbecue sauce and icky soy sauce and something else gross too. I mean, just nasty. It does help, though. (At least it did the first time I tried it.) The only thing is, you have to drink the whole bottle. And I'm sorry, but that's just not realistic. Swallowing 2 tbps of Nyquil/Dayquil isn't even a sure thing for me. For the longest time, I had to take it standing in front of the toilet in case I puked. All liquid medicines make me gag. Well, this stuff...I got about 1/3 of it down. I had an audience by that time, of the Korean teachers sitting in the office. So I said I needed to go into the bathroom to finish it in case I gagged. Then I poured it down the toilet. That makes me laugh an evil little cackle of a laugh... one of the ridiculous things I can do to exert some small measure of control in my life here.

Anyway, that's all. Just thought I'd share. And, just for free, I hate talking-music. I also don't like the song "Little Drummer Boy." Combine the two, and it's laughable. Especially when the guy sing-talking sounds like Barry White.

Monday, November 27, 2006 

Our Very Korean American Thanksgiving

Here's the spread. Colorful and exceedingly yummy. Seriously, my mouth waters a little bit right now just thinking about how yummy that food was. Emma and Owen at the kid's table. I actually ended up sitting with them most of the time...at the edge of the table, but still at the kid's table. It's where I'm most comfortable.

I love this picture so very much. It says so much about life here. Adam is doing the oh-so Korean thing...which we could call the peace sign, but to be honest I have no idea why Koreans do it. I was just told it is a V for victory. Anyway, regardless, it's all the time and all over the place. The point is, I love this picture.

Sunday, November 26, 2006 

My cat is James Bond

Have you ever noticed how some bloggers feel the need to put entirely unrelated and usually cryptic titles to their posts? I have never been able to understand it. I only did it here because it reminds me of a hilarious joke that, while extremely funny to me, would lose some of the humor if I tried to explain it.

A lot has happened in the past week. Remember a few posts back, when I said something about the next month or so holding a lot of changes for me? Turns out I was absolutely right about that.

I told my boss this past week that I'll be returning to the US when my contract is over. He asked if I knew anyone who would be interested in working there. Umm...yeah, not off the top of my head. And really, it's not the worst job in the world and I know that. But I don't know of any foreigners who would really LOVE working there.

By the way, my roommate got Vonage, and had her parents bring over the stuff for it. So it is now possible for all you North Americans to reach me in Korea dialing a US number. I'm not going to post the number here, because I just think it would be a little dumb. If you want it, leave me a comment and I'll email it to you. All I know is that it has absolutely changed my life. I spend WAY more time on the phone now than I did before. And there's no annoying/creepy echo like there usually is with the phone cards I used to have to buy. Nice.

I'll have to remember to post pictures of our Thanksgiving dinner from last week sometime soon. Beth and her mom prepared a feast, and we all went over there Wednesday evening. It was awesome. The food was so delightfully American. Made me happy.

I have more to say, but unfortunately am way tired. I'll try to post the Thanksgiving pictures tomorrow. It'll give you something to look forward to. :) Good night all.

Saturday, November 18, 2006 

Shopping here stresses me out

Seriously...I don't know if it's because people need jobs or what...but the kind of jobs people have here! I mentioned a long time ago...over a year ago, I know it was, that at this one place where I had my hair cut a few times, there was one person whose job it was to just stand there and wipe off any stray freshly-cut-off hairs from my face with this big sponge. I've yet to see a self-service gas station in this country. One of my friends explained it to me by saying that the only natural resource Korea has as a country is its people.

So this translates into something tantamount to utter chaos at the grocery store. First of all, the meat section is (for me) a panic attack just waiting to happen. There's all these little islands with varieties of already-seasoned/marinated meat. For every section of meat, there's a very loud guy in a white suit, whose job is it to advertise his particular kind of meat, and then put it in a bag, weigh it, and put the price on for you. Seriously, these guys spend their entire work days bellowing. All of them. At the same time. The store closest to my current apartment isn't nearly as bad as the one I used to go to when I lived with Natalie. Seriously, at that store, I'd just sneak into this one corner of the meat part and grab what I could, even though that meant I bought Australian beef, which is more expensive. It was worth it to avoid the ten-auctions-going-on-at-once kind of racket.

Well, yesterday I went to the store to buy some feminine hygiene products (my apologies to you squeamish men who don't want to hear about it) and some facial cleanser. Well, all the different brands have these representatives working in these sections in the store. I walked up to the feminine hygiene aisle, and was surrounded by these two Korean women who were intent on helping me. (And for those of you who think two is too small a number of people to be surrounded by, you've not been shopping in a Korean store on the weekend.) And you know, it wouldn't have been nearly so bad, had they not pulled out this sample phamplet/book thing. It was the size of a small poster, and had all these different pads stuck to it. I think they genuinely expected me to point to the kind I wanted to buy. I'm not at all embarrassed at buying such items, but with this huge paper of various pads stuck in front of my face, and the aisle in question being one of the main ones...I was probably more surprised than anything else, but there was definitely some "Uhh...stop it, put that away!" feelings in there. So I just ignored them, pushed past them, and got the kind I wanted (without, I might add, having to point to the poster o' pads).

Then I headed to the all-things-soap section. There were more product representatives than shoppers in this area - Dove, Neutrogena, and a whole slew of Korean brand names I can't remember. Here all but one of the women didn't help me (because they might have to speak English, and that's embarrassing or something). It was a different woman but the same product that caught me before at the same store in the past. She was most helpful, I must say. I found both items I was looking for, and she gave me loads of stuff for "service" (translation: free stuff/incentive/mild bribery). The part I found most humorous was when she was telling me the instructions for the face mask I bought. The only part I could understand were the numbers (15 and 25, FYI), but I don't know if she was saying "Leave this on for 15-25 minutes" or "At 15 minutes, your face will start to slowly melt, and at 25 minutes you will die." I did use one of the masks last night, and left it on for as long as I could stand it (which ended up being slightly less than 10 minutes, actually...it felt too slimy). Face and life still intact.

The moral of the story is...shopping here stresses me out. If it's not the insane crowds, it's the maddening people who come to an abrupt stop right in front of me, and then walk off and leave their carts in the middle of the aisle where I can't get around them. If it's not either of those, it's being mobbed by product representatives, or feeling like a nervous chihuahua in the meat department. I long for the day when I can go wander around Wal-Mart for hours and not be yelled at, literally pushed around, have my ankles crushed by the cart of the oblivious woman behind me, or hounded by women holding up posters of pads. Ahh...good ol' Western indifference.

Friday, November 17, 2006 

You gotta love living in a country where when someone points out the blemishes on your face it's a sign of care and concern. *sigh* One of the mothers of the elementary school kids today saw me and asked how I was. I told her I was tired. And she said, "Ohhh...yes, I can see..." and then motioned towards the small crop of unsightly blemishes on the lower half of my face. That's right... thanks for noticing. I was actually really surprised that one particular Korean co-worker didn't point them out, until I was walking beside her and saw she had a cold sore. See? I won't say anything about yours if you don't say anything about mine.

I have more to say, and more specific coming-back-to-the-States plans to share, but not the time right now. I'm leaving you something to look forward to! :) And for all of you who answered the ice cream question, thanks for playing. Especially Bethany's answer...and I apologize for putting the word "tingly" in my comment about her comment. It was pointed out to me that such a word might not have been thoroughly appropriate. I admit I was thinking about mint-scented/menthol shampoo when I wrote the word. Anyway...that's all for now. Night!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006 

I have to take a moment to express that I have an Internet friend-crush on Wendy of Mosaic Life. I think she is hilarious, and I love reading her blogs. Plus just recently she used the word "gubernatorial," which I know is a real word, but made me laugh when I read it. Not only did it make me laugh when I read it, but I thought of it at least three more times later on that day, and chuckled out loud to myself. Plus, she got me pointed in the direction of Stuff on My Cat. She's just cool. I like her a lot. That's all. Just thought I'd share.


No, seriously...

If you had to pick an ice cream flavor to describe your personality, what would it be?

Think about it.

The first person I asked that said Rocky Road for adventure, even if there are bumps along the way, with Taro, for foreign tastes. My answer was coconut ice cream, because at first glance/notice, I may appear as bland (though as sweet) as vanilla ice cream, in reality I'm providentially unique and also nutty. :)

So really...I want some answers.

Monday, November 13, 2006 

Spam (Spam, spam, spam, spam...from Monty Python - thanks Adam!)

I'm not sure what this country has done to me. Last Friday night, I went to the store to get some stuff to make dinner. And what did I buy? Spam. I'm so serious. It was mild Spam. I mean, it said on the box "Mild Spam." And by that, I assumed they meant it would be only mildly disgusting. Ha. I'm a Spam hater. I have to make jokes about it even though I bought it. Anyway, I had some Spam (some of the many cans we received as a gift at Chuseok) at Adam and Beth's house a few weeks ago, and it was...not as revolting as I had expected it to be. So on Friday night I had a hankering for it (hankering is uber southern, but I'd rather admit to that than to say that I was craving Spam...somehow it makes a difference to me). It was all well and good till I tried to open it. When it slid out of the can, the sides were coated in this gross goo that was too much like the "gravy" that comes on top of canned dog food (and by "gravy" they mean "all the gross ingredients that rose to the top and then congealed), and it made a noise that is just too disgusting and awful to even try to describe. Lis was in the room, and in her words, watched it "splurch out of the can." She also saw my reaction...I cringed, shouted, and nearly cried. I know you (and by "you," I mean Adam) probably think I'm being dramatic, but seriously...it was a traumatic experience. And then the Spam ended up not being as tasty (or as mild) as I had hoped. All in all, a learning experience.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006 

Two Hilarious Things

As I mentioned yesterday, I went to a movie last night. As I was waiting for it to be time for me to leave to go to the theater, I was trying to help Lis pick out a movie to watch. I suggested the movie "Hoodwinked," because I think it's insanely witty and clever. She was on the floor in front of the TV, looking at the row of DVDs. I said, "It's between The Emperor's New Groove and Scorpion King." After I said that she just looked at me rather strangely. I was referring to the location of the DVD. She thought I was describing the type of movie....which is hilarious if you've seen either The Emperor's New Groove or the Scorpion King. Although realistically, the Rock would probably be the perfect one to be Yzma's next boy after Kronk. It actually still makes me kind of chuckle out loud when I think about a cross between those two movies. Ahhh... good times.

As for the second hilarious thing, Victoria's Secret should totally pay me for all the advertising I do here for their lotions (specifically Love Spell, though Vanilla Lace to a lesser degree). There is one family that has a boy and a girl in our school. The boy is 5 (Korean age) and in the kindergarten. The girl is in second grade and comes to the afternoon classes. In the winter time Alice (her English name) has dreadfully dry hands, so I would always give her some lotion to put on her hands. Her mom asked me a couple months back where I got the lotion from, but we can't communicate...well, at all, and so I pulled up the website. HELLO...for a conversative Korean woman who can't speak English well, can you imagine what the VS website looks like when it first pops up? I quickly got us to the beauty section, but I think she lost interest when she realized it would have to be shipped from the US. I gave Alice a small bottle full of Love Spell awhile back also...these two kids are two of my favorites. So today their mother stops me and, through Joy, tells me she wants to order some lotion. I tell her that I still have quite a few bottles and can sell her some. She said she wanted THREE... which is a lot even for me. Anyway, we talked a bit more...ends up she wants the lotion for Thomas, the 5 year old BOY. I find that strange, but also somehow not surprising. The end result is that I'm going to sell her two of my bottles tomorrow (leaving me with 5 left over, so Jen you don't have to worry about going to VS for me before I come back to the States), and then she wants me to help her order FIVE more bottles. For her son! Thomas is the boy who always comes up and smells my hands and goes, "Yummy!" and then looks at my eyes and says in Korean "Sparkle, sparkle" (referring of course to the glittery eye shadow I often wear). He's also the boy that does the monkey hug on me when he's tired. He's adorable. And he's going to smell yummy soon as well. I find it a little strange that one of my students and I will be wearing the same scent...but whatever. It's Korea. It works here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006 

There are two printers in our office. To say that they both work sporadically is an understatement. They work when (or rather IF) they feel so inclined, and the times they don't mind working are usually the times when the need to print is at the lowest possible level of urgency. Or to say it in a remarkably less complicated way, when it's MOST important, you can almost bet your booties they won't print.

I realized today that a lot of interesting things have happened that I never blogged about. I never mentioned getting a case of 15 cans of Spam from my job as a Chuseok (Korean thanksgiving) present. (I then re-gifted the Spam - giving it to a student I tutor for him to give to his mother.) I never mentioned the ballet I went to about a week ago with Lis and one of the Korean teachers. (It was a performance by students of this national university of the arts here, and the Korean teacher's daughter was in the performance.) I also failed to mention how the taxi driver Lis and I had on the way back from said performance told me I looked like a scholar. Of course he didn't use the word in English. He just kept on repeating the Korean word over and over again, until he finally said "Edison, Einstein!" and I was able to understand the general gist of what he was trying to say. He then told Lis she looked like Miss Universe. I also didn't mention that my apartment is already decorated for Christmas. Or that I went to a Korean amusement park (mini-park, by American standards) around the beginning of October. Or that one of the signs on a ride at the mini-amusement park said "No drunken expectant mothers allowed." Of course I understand what they were *trying* to say, but I still think it's hilarious.

Anyway, that's about all I got for now. I'm going to see a movie tonight, because I'm doing the movie review this month for the devotional magazine. I'm actually really excited about going to see an English movie in a theater. One of the small joys. I don't do it often...less than 6 times since I've been here. I'm going to go finish some work.

Saturday, November 04, 2006 

I'll be home for Christmas...

Not this one. But the next one.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen. I have made a decision...a firm decision, too, I'm pretty sure. Within the next year, I plan to relocate back to the good ol' USA.

I realized something yesterday...I thought I should stay here because I can make so much more money here than I could in the States. But then in the name of "survival," I spend LOTS of money. And it truly is for survival. Eating at Outback for familiar yummy food, buying books (in English, of course), and a few other things along those lines...help me to survive here.

Then I was reading a thread on an ESL teacher's forum, and this guy said he had been in Korea for a year and was trying to decide whether he should stay another or not. I don't remember exactly what he said, but one of the people who responded said that when the reasons to leave outnumber the reasons to stay, it's time to go.

And you know what? I think they're right. God has accomplished so much in my life while I've been here. But I think it's time to go. So if anyone has ideas of how a Theology-degree holding girl whose only real job experience is a year at a vet and 2.5 years teaching ESL can get a decent-paying job, I'd love to hear it. I'm a bit overwhelmed at the thought of trying to find a job there from here. Not to mention that I am absolutely TERRIBLE at writing cover letters. So if anyone out there is good at that, I could use your help there too.

So there you have it. My days here are officially numbered. Thought you'd like to know.

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